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Gov’t backtracks on rally ban

CNRP supporters rally through the streets of Phnom Penh on Monday
CNRP supporters rally through the streets of Phnom Penh on Monday. Heng Chivoan

Gov’t backtracks on rally ban

After days of defiance from the opposition against a ban on public assembly, the government issued orders yesterday for opposition rallies across the country to be allowed to go ahead, officials said.

Tep Nytha, secretary-general of the National Election Committee (NEC), said the body and the Interior Ministry had sent letters to provincial and municipal governors calling on them not to stand in the way of rallies or marches by the Cambodia National Rescue Party.

“This letter, we decided on just now, and we have started to send it [to the provinces]. Based on this letter the governors will make it easy [for the CNRP to march],” Nytha told the Post yesterday.

The CNRP “asked the Ministry of Interior for permission to march in some provinces, and [the ministry] sent the letters to those provinces. It means that the ministry allows the [CNRP to] march, but it must cooperate,” he said, referring to orders that include limiting the numbers of supporters rallying.

Nytha added that officials in Phnom Penh had also been asked not to interfere in opposition rallies.

Officials from the Interior Ministry could not be reached for comment.

Bans on public rallies had previously been announced for the duration of the campaign period, which ends on May 16.

The CNRP has also defied orders to refrain from verbally attacking the Cambodian People’s Party. But Nytha said such attacks would continue to be tolerated as long as they did not get personal.

“If [any party] criticises the political platform of the [opposing] party it is [allowed] . . . but no insulting of individuals,” he said.

Addressing a crowd of about 2,000 supporters in Kampong Chhnang yesterday, CNRP leader Sam Rainsy slammed the CPP for the corruption and poverty that exist under its rule.

“Our youth have seen that our country’s current leaders are very weak because [Cambodia] nowadays, under the ruling of the Cambodian People’s Party, is the poorest compared to neighbouring countries, [and the] most corrupt,” he said.

“Our Khmer children have gone to Thailand for jobs because Thailand is prosperous . . . [Only the CNRP] is arranging . . . for all Cambodian children to have proper jobs. [Cambodian children] do not need to leave the country to work for pay in Thailand.”

The CNRP is set to rally in Phnom Penh today.

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